February 25, 2012

Professional Hockey Player Andrew Ference Goes Green

Most hockey fans know about Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference because of the team's Stanley Cup championship run last season. And recently Ference made headlines for a three-game suspension he received after a hit on the New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh. But the National Geographic Channel is showing another side of Ference that many NHL fans might not be aware of: eco-warrior.

"Beyond the Puck," a web video series featuring new episodes every Thursday, provides brief glimpses (the videos average only a few minutes) into the off-ice life of Ference and his family as the Edmonton, Canada native goes green. Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki inspired Ference to pursue a carbon neutral lifestyle and helped him start in 2007 the NHL's first environmental program that encourages players to go carbon neutral and think about their impact on the environment. 

One webisode shows how Ference ditched his gas-guzzling truck for a bicycle. He now bikes to work and plays with his two children on bikes. Other webisodes show Ference grocery shopping for healthy organic food and composting at home with his kids.

Ference joins other current and former NHL players like ex-Rangers goalie Mike Richter in taking a public stand for protecting the planet. With so many professional athletes these days making headlines for all the wrong reasons, it is nice to see someone like Ference inspiring others to do the right thing. 

- Josh Marks

Big Night of Wins and Upsets in the EIHL and EPL (UK Round Up 25th February)

It was a big night in the title races as wins, upsets and almost caused a shake up in the league titles of both the EIHL and EPL.

Sheffield Steelers 1 Braehead Clan 2

It was a Friday night start for the weekends EIHL fixtures as the Steelers played another of their games in hand in Braehead. It was all going to plan when Colt King put the Steelers ahead at he end of the first period but Adam Walker tied the game after the first intermission. It was a tight game thereafter but it was Drew Bannister that broke the deadlock and the spoils for the home side.

Saturday 25th February
Braehead Clan 5 Edinburgh Capitals 4 (APS)

Hot on the heels of their win over Sheffield the Clan headed to Murrayfield for their second of 3 games this weekend.

It was a first period full of action with the Capitals taking a 2-goal lead before the Clan equalised and fell behind by a 2-goals again by the mid point in the middle period. But the Clan weren’t done as they equalised through Wirill and Campbell.

No winner could be found in the extra period but Galbraith and Krestanovich hit the winners in the shootout.

Belfast Giants 8 Hull Stingrays 0

With the Steelers loss the night before the Giants knew this was their chance to take full control of the title race.

After a slow start the Giants got into their strand without a let up. A brace from Dowd and Mason was backed up by goals from Pelle, Peacock and Keefe in a game where nothing went the Stingrays who including mussing a penalty shot.

Sheffield Steelers 5 Fife Flyers 3

The Steelers knew that they couldn’t afford to slip up again but the Kirkcaldy ice rink has not been the kindest on the Steelers. The second period was that slip up for the Steelers as they found themselves goal behind by the end of it.

Hard work and a bit of luck in the third period were just what the Steelers needed and what they got. Firstly De Caro saved a penalty shot before Fulgham and King gave the Steelers the lead. Fife then thought they had saved the game through Todd Dutiaume only for Mick Hicks to rule it out.

A frantic last few minutes from the Flyers did not produce the equaliser but a Steelers insurance marker through Jeff Legue

That win leaves the Steelers and Giants head to head in the title race.

Cardiff Devils 3 Nottingham Panthers 6

It was a run and gun game in Nottingham as both sides racked up the chances. But it was Nottingham took theirs. The Panthers out scored the Devils in each period with a brace from GB international David Clarke.

English Premier League

The Guildford Flames showed the rest of the EPL why they are in the hot seat for the title as they brushed aside their cup final rivals the Sheffield Steelers. Manchester however did keep up the pressure on the Flames with a win in Bracknell. But it is now looking like a two horse race as the Jets went down 4 – 0 to the up and down Milton Keynes Lightning.

Peterborough’s win in Basingstoke was a big step towards their playoff push as Swindon’s at home to Telford also boosts their chances of making the end of season party.

Friday 24th February
Sheffield Steelers 1 Braehead Clan 2

Saturday 25th February
Sheffield Steelers 5 Fife Flyers 3
Cardiff Devils 3 Nottingham Panthers 6
Belfast Giants 8 Hull Stingrays 0
Braehead Clan 5 Edinburgh Capitals 4 (APS)

Telford Tigers 2 Swindon Wildcats 7
Manchester Phoenix 5 Bracknell Bees 3
Sheffield Steeldogs 1 Guildford Flames 4
Peterborough Phantoms 8 Basingstoke Bison 5
Slough Jets 0 Milton Keynes Lightning 4

Neil Tucker

February 24, 2012

Leafs Gobbled Up By The Sharks

Do you think Brian Burke has a lot questions to ask his team before the trade deadline?

I would sure hope so, as the Toronto Maple Leafs showed up for only the 3rd period last night and that wasn't enough to beat the SJ Sharks. It is getting to be a broken record here but what the Leafs seem to be doing is forgetting that the game is a 6o minute venture and that it is always better to start off fast and get things going then waiting till the last period.

Trailing by 2-0 going into the 3rd after a scoreless, unemotional 1st period and then watching the Sharks take over the 2nd; it took Mike Brown of the Leafs to shake things up by coming out of the gate and taking on Jim Vandermeer with a entertaining bout. Surprisingly shortly thereafter finally the Leafs woke up as Jake Gardiner from the point blasted a shot home to narrow the lead to 2-1 at 3:53.

But this Leaf team doesn't seem to be to desperate for some reason and it doesn't look like there is any sense of urgency going on. There isn't any feel of a playoff atmosphere with this team especially at this time of year and that has to worry the Leafs brass.

The Sharks did a good job of shutting down the Leafs top 2 lines and goaltender Neimi played well to boot it off. Tonight wasn't a case of bad goaltending from the Leafs, actually James Reimer played well stopping several Sharks on good chances. It really looked like the scorers of the Leafs went AWOL this time and that isn't going to sit well with the coaching staff nor GM Burke.

The Leafs have the Capitals in town on Saturday and then have to sit through the trade deadline on Monday in Florida for a  Tuesday night tilt with the Panthers. Should be a interesting next few days in Leaf Nation as Brian Burke will be working the phones trying to figure out who should go and who should stay.


Dominic Moore didn't dress last night for the Sharks as he has a lower-body injury.

Mike Komisarek sat out again making that the 9th time in 11 games...something should be happening with that in the next day or two.

Jake Gardiner didn't seem to leave the ice in the third period as he logged the most ice by a defenceman for the Leafs. Gardiner is also getting some notice from around the league for the Rookie of the Year, let's keep a watch out for this shall we.

Until next time.

See you after the game,

Coach Nye

The Dominos Begin To Fall

On the 23rd day of February, the Trade Dominos started to fall, as The Columbus Blue Jackets traded Jeff Carter to the L.A Kings for Jack Johnson (not the musician) and a conditional 1st Round Draft pick. Your move Glen Sather !!

With this move being made the Rick Nash trade rumors have caught fire, but hold on to your skates the name Dustin Brown has now jumped into the conversation. The 27 year old winger has now been made available by The Kings. Brown, this season has 14 Goals and 17 Assists in 61 games. The intrigue with Brown is twofold for the Rangers, he is a cheaper option both money wise and what would be asked for in return, and he is a perfect fit into the Rangers system. This is a player who in 574 career games has 155 goals and 181 assists, and at roughly 4 million dollars till 2013, that is about half of what you would pay Nash. The comparison in the games of Nash and Brown are vastly different. Where Nash is not known to be a very strong two way player, Brown is and to fit into the Rangers system that is key. Nash does not play very often if at all on the PK where Brown would. Overall yes Nash will score more offensively but Brown has scored 20 goals or more 3 times and had a career high, 33 goals in the 07-08 Season.  When you compare the two players, it becomes pretty clear that if Dustin Brown really is available, then Sather should pull the trigger on that deal right away. That deal could also open up a few other options for the Rangers instead of making just one big deal. A deal for Brown, not only can help this team now but with upcoming RFA’s like Brandon Prust, Marty Biron and Ruslan Fedetenko.  It also does not strap the team financially from pursuing big name Free Agents next season such as Alexander Semin, Ryan Suter or Zack Parise. With all this being said, 

Glen Sather knows there is no pressing need to jump the gun on a deal especially for Nash. It’s being said that he is waiting to see if the asking price for Nash comes down. If not then there is no reason to mortgage the future of the franchise for the talents of Rick Nash. Ranger fans need to just be patient and wait to see what happens. Don’t get call up in all the rumors no matter how frustrating they are, especially if your favorite player’s names are involved. No moves have been made to this point and the rumors will fly from now till the deadline passes on Monday at 3pm. It’s going to be an Interesting weekend in the NHL, so let the pieces fall where they may, and bring on the playoffs. 

- Joe Clewell

February 23, 2012

Do the LA Kings need help in scoring more goals? Does a bear…?

What are you willing to give up and part with in order for that to happen, really?  While I'm asking questions, why would anyone who has  the slightest bit of knowledge in Dean Lombardi's track record want him to make a move as significant as acquiring the likes of Zach Parise, Jeff Carter, Ales Hemsky, or Rick Nash? 

Let's take a look at Dean's trade deadline moves in recent years:

2011: Kings trade Ryan Smyth to Edmonton for Gilbert Brule… wait no, Colin Fraser

At first, the trade was supposed to bring Gilbert Brule to the Kings in exchange for Smyth, who wanted to be in Edmonton.  Given the situation, it's obvious that Dean was not going to get much in return.  However, the trade for Brule was canceled since he was injured.  Instead, they gave him Fraser… who also ended up being injured.  Since the trade, Fraser has been a decent fourth line grinder who is willing an okay penalty killer and a willing combatant when needed.  

2011: Kings trade Colton Teubert, 2011 1st round pick, and 3rd in 2012 to Edmonton for Dustin Penner Since the trade, Dustin Penner has been a disaster. Listing his point totals is not necessary. All anyone needs to know is that he has been a healthy scratch in favor of AHL players.

2010: Kings trade Teddy Purcell and a 3rd round pick to Tampa Bay for Jeff Halpern and a 3rd round pick. Halpern did absolutely nothing for the Kings for the rest of the season and the playoffs as an unrestricted free agent while Purcell became a decent scorer in Tampa Bay.

2009: Kings trade Brian Boyle to the New York Rangers for a 3rd round choice. Brian Boyle didn't seem to find his groove in LA and Dean shipped him off to New York where he, all of a sudden, became one of the key components of the Rangers.

2008: Kings trade Michael Cammalleri and a 2nd round pick to Calgary for 1st and 2nd round picks. 

Considering that the 1st round pick was used to acquire Colton Teubert, who then was traded for Dustin Penner… I'm calling this his worst trade yet.

Having knowledge of these disastrous trades, why would anyone want Dean to make another deal while he's still here in LA?  Acquiring a player like Rick Nash or Zach Parise would add quite a bit to this team… but, at what cost?  The Kings are struggling offensively and everyone knows that.  Dean would be forced to pull off a trade where he might have to overpay.  Are Kings fans willing to part with the likes of Johnson, Bernier, and Voynov?  I, for one, hope he doesn't make a move on any of the high profile players who are available for trade right now.  He has been average (at best) in this category, so why sacrifice the future now?  If the Kings do not make the playoffs AND win at least a round, Dean Lombardi is likely to be cut loose.  Let's make an Alec Martinez for Travis Moen type of deal, see what happens from now until the end of the season, and regroup during the summer.  After all, being a Kings fan is to say "there's always next season."

Mike Torosyan 

February 22, 2012

The Get Real Guide to the Basingstoke Bison

League: EPL

Founded: 1988

Colours: Black, Red, White, Green

Home Ice: Planet Ice Basingstoke

The Basingstoke Bison are one of the real survivors of British ice hockey. They are a team that has played at all levels of the sport in the UK but without a much success. Yet the Basingstoke Bison has still produced young players and still been competitive.

The Basingstoke Ice Hockey club can trace its begins to the 1988 when the Basingstoke Beavers entertained the Bournemouth Sharks in a preseason game. That year the Beavers entered the league and quickly made a name for themselves at the lower end of the British ice league thanks to high scoring games. One such game came in March 1989 when Don Yewchin scored 12 goals against Peterborough.

The following year the Beavers gained promotion for the first time thanks to a 5 -3 victory over the arch rival Bracknell Bees. After a steady performance in the first season they went on to finish third in their second season and were league winners in their third to gain promotion to the Premier League and the top flight for the first time.

The Beavers established themselves as a side in the Premier League and in their second season the Beavers top the pile for a few weeks.

For the 1995 season the Beavers became the Bison and the beginning of the clubs modern history began. The Bison missed the Championship playoffs at Wembley and then entered the then newly formed Superleague that summer.

The relaxation of spending caps and import rules in the Superleague did not benefit the Bison and it was a difficult existence for the club. In the first season the Bison went winless in their first seven and went on to finish bottom of the league. The second season in the Superleague was only just better as the Bison finished seventh in the eight-team league.

That was to be the Bison’s last appearance in the Superleague as over the summer the team was pulled citing high losses and an uncompetitive team as the main reasons. The team moved into the British National League and saw a marked improvement in the team’s fortunes narrowly missing out on the title and reaching the playoff semi finals.

The 1999 season was also a successful one as the Bison won the Benson and Hedges Plate a trophy they would regain the following season.

After a successful spell in the BNL the Basingstoke Bison were a founder member of the Elite League as rink owners Planet Ice announced they would be playing in the new league.

The return to the top flight was again not the most successful as the Bison finished the first season in seventh narrowly missing the playoffs. The 2005 season too was not the most successful as the Bison lost to the second tier BNL sides Bracknell and Guildford in the crossover league as the team missed the playoffs again finishing seventh.

Things did not get better for the 2006 season as again the Bison finished seventh and set a club record 12 straight defeats. However there was a highlight, as player coach Mark Bernard became the first EIHL netminder to score a goal.

There was a vast in improvement in 2007 as the Bison produced a 50% point hall and made the playoffs although the team finished seventh once again. That improvement looked to continue into 2008 but money woes soon came onto the agenda. After losing Stevie Lyle and Pete Campbell to Belfast the time went onto the Knockout Cup final winning the first leg in Coventry before going down in the second leg. In the league though the Bison could not manage to make the playoffs finishing ninth.

After a summer of tough financial problems the Bison made it on to the ice but it was a difficult season and the Bison’s last in the top flight. As after the season ended they joined Manchester in moving down to the English Premier League.

Life in the EPL has not been too easy however for the Bison as they have struggled to make an impact however the Bison did make the EPL Cup final in 2010.

The 2011 – 12 season has not been the most memorable for the Bison as they got off to a bad start. But a recent good run has seen them move into a comfortable mid table position with a view to carry on into the playoffs.

§  English Div 1 Promotion Play-offs - 1989
§  Southern Cup - 1992
§  Heineken Division One - 1993
§  Heineken Div 1 Promomtion Play-offs - 1993
§  B & H Plate – 2000, 2001


Neil Tucker

Devils Win Game but Leave Leafs Wondering

A game that they should of won, the Toronto Maple Leafs came away with one point but will it be enough in the long run?

On a overtime goal scored by Mark Fayne of NJ, an unknown to most hockey fans, shot a 'flutter ball' towards the net at Gustavsson and as everyone watched it float on by the Leaf goalie, the NJ Devils skated away with the win that should of gone the other way.

Don't get the coach wrong here, the Devils played their ususal game of 'get up by a couple' then shut it all down the rest of the way. Boring hockey but effective as the Devils are ahead of the Leafs in the standings and have been playing that way forever, so it must work (it does help that you have a future Hall of Famer in net!)

As nothing changed in the standings last night, the Leafs still tied with the Jets (also lost in OT vs the Flyers) and with 2 games up on them it is going to make a fun playoff race for sure. But with uncertainty in the nets (see Feb 16th blog with my question, Who is #1 in net? ), some poor defensive decisions and not all lines going at once the Leafs will be looking over their shoulders right till the final buzzer of the final game.

In last night's match the Devils had goaltending when it counted and they played the tight defensive game when called upon and by who I saw score their goals, received timely goals when needed too. Maybe something the Leafs could look at and develop into or maybe not?

After the Devils went 2-0, goals by P.Sykora and D.Clarkson about the 16 minute mark saw the Devils Clarkson and Leafs Doin Phaneuf go head to head in a lively fist a cuffs. You see the Devils don't like to be hit especially one of their goal scorers as in Z.Parise. Captain Dion laid Parise out with a beauty of a hit which Clarkson took exception to and challenged Phaneuf which he gladly accepted. My opinion here is, this wouldn't of happen if the instigator penalty rule was in forced but that's another subject for another day! In between that little mix up the Leafs did bring the score back to 2-1 with a nice tip in by Tim Connolly.

In the 2nd the two teams traded off goals which put the Devils up by one heading to the third. Please Note: There is a lack of print writing here as the Devils went into the defensive mode play and boarded the heck out of everyone!

But come the final minute of the third after a quick time out the Leafs tied it up just the way the coach had drawn it up on the board.  Phil "The Thrill' Kessel put in a beautiful wrist shot pass the glove of Brodeur that sent this game into overtime.

With that momentum the Leafs should of put the game away and they did have their chances (Gardiner rang one off the post) but with 1:18 left that 'flutter ball' shot from the defenseman Fayne floated by the  Monster for the loss. As Coach Wilson mentioned after the game ' We can't let those get away on us, it's simple as that. We have to be focused all through the game and don't dwell on the pass bad bounces.'

I think that sums up the way the whole season for the Leafs has been this year!

Game Notes.

Shots were even up at 32 a piece.

Another strong showing from rookie defenseman Jake Gardiner.

C.Gunnarsson was back on the Leafs blueline and logged 19:27 of ice time right behind Phaneuf who had 21:16

Hard to trade MacArthur in my opinion, some good hands there and starting to get his rhythm back but we will wait and see.

Leafs back at it on Thursday with the Sharks in town. Game time at 7pm.

Until Next Time.

See You After the Game

Coach Nye

Panic in New York ?

After a terrible loss to the Penguins where they took 27 shots but couldn’t find the back of the net, New York Ranger fans are left to sit and ponder… What happens next? The most avid fans are ready to jump off the Triborough Bridge, and trade everyone except Henrik Lundqvist.  Some fans say its ok its only 1 game. With the trade deadline slowly approaching, what is the answer for the Eastern Conference Leaders?

Any team would love to get a scoring threat like Rick Nash, but would you give up so much for him? The team is in first place and has gotten this far without him. If the asking price for Nash comes down than pull the trigger on the deal. If not than look for a player that can help on the power play which has been terrible all season.

Does the team need a top 4 defenseman?

I would say for the right price if there is one available yes. Let’s be honest, it is taking Marc Staal a lot longer to find his game than anyone thought. The loss of Michael Sauer to post concussion syndrome, is a bigger loss than anyone expected.  Although Michael Del Zotto is having a bounce back year, and Dan Girardi is continuing to show why he was an All Star, you cannot expect these two guys and Ryan McDonagh to continue to be effective playing as many minutes as they are. It is apparent that Coach Tortorella is losing faith in Stu Bickel and Anton Stralman, who was benched during the game against Pittsburgh. So the best solution would be to find an available Defenseman that will fit into the system.

With all that said, I’m sure Glen Sather has his eyes on the prize and knows what he wants to do. If that’s to stand pat and go to battle with the team that is still #1 in the Eastern Conference or if it’s to pull off a trade or two that will make the team better, that’s what he gets paid for. I mean he is the man that has put this team together and it wasn’t long ago that everyone was talking about what a magical season this is shaping up to be. But after a little bit of a lull and a couple of loses to good teams, it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet. Keep the faith Rangers fans, believe in your coach, your General Manager, and your team, no matter what it looks like after the deadline.

By Joe Clewell

February 21, 2012

To my fellow Flyers Fans: Why we need to lay off Bryzgalov

To say Ilya Bryzgalov has not lived up to his 9 year, $51 million contract, is an understatement only dwarfed by his current goals against average. The Flyers took a lot of gambles and made a lot of trades (cough Mike Richards, Jeff Carter cough) to solve the annual Philly hockey dilemma of finding a stable, number one goaltender. And after the dust settled from all the signings and all the trades, what have we discovered: That the Flyers still don’t have a stable, number one goaltender.

With all of that said, I still have faith in Ilya Bryzgalov, and you should too. 

Despite his less than average stat line, his ever-fluctuating personality, and his nearly shattered confidence, “Bryz” is still the Flyers best bet between the pipes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of Sergei Bobrovsky and I think someday he could be one heck of a starting goaltender, but he’s also only 23 years old and plays goal like he’s 5’8” rather than the 6’2” he actually is. Not to mention, if you thought Brygalov’s numbers were bad, go take a look at what “Bob” has done lately. Let me spoil the surprise; it’s not pretty. So that leaves us Flyers fans with two options: Either we band together and storm the Bastille that is the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, calling for Bryzgalov’s head.

Or we can just take a deep breath and let the experienced netminder find his own way out of his current funk. Personally, I choose the latter. Let’s be honest, chances are, the Flyers are stuck with Bryzgalov, whether they like it or not, for many years to come. There are just too many dollar signs devoted to him to turn back now. Plus, he’s 38 games in to his 9 year contract. There is still time to right the ship, and there are actually some signs that it is. Since January 5, Bryzgalov’s GAA has been a solid 2.49 over 15 games. It’s not mind-blowing, but it’s certainly not dreadful either. Not to mention if you focus on just his last 7 outings, his GAA is a much prettier 2.18 with a decent .917 save percentage.

The criticism now deals with his inconsistency. It seems that any time Bryzgalov manages to string a few decent games together, he comes up with a clunker that shatters his confidence and rekindles the ongoing discussion of “why did they pay so much money for him?” And that’s exactly the problem. It’s time for us to stop beating down Bryzgalov for every bad game he has, because like every other goaltender in the league, he’s going to have some. And sure, maybe Bryz has had one bad game too many, but who else is there? What other options do you think the Flyers have?

For better or for worse, Ilya Bryzgalov is the Flyers best shot between the pipes right now, and it’s time we, as Flyer-Faithfuls, have his back.

- Mike Ali